Ezekiel Elliott is back with the Cowboys and he was back on the practice field yesterday for the first time since November 3rd. Teammates raved about how he looked, his energy, and his attitude. From the way they talked, you could tell they were excited to have him back.
Dak Prescott: “So I’m sure, like I said, I know it motivated him just watching the game and watching his teammates and his boys go out there and play. Obviously, him wanting to be out there, I know it lit a fire in him. And just seeing him in the way he’s been performing in coming back, you can tell.”
Zack Martin: “He obviously brings a lot of energy, and it’s great to have him back. He looks in great shape, looks ready to go, so it’ll be exciting to see him play on Sunday.”
Elliott also met with the media. And well, that didn’t go nearly as well. Normally, I wouldn’t play his whole interaction with the media because it would take too much time. But in this case, time is not a concern at all. Because Elliott hit that media session like a hole that was about to close.
I love his attempt at the beginning to declare that he’s turning the page and that “I’m not talking about it anymore. This is the last time you’ll hear me speak about it. So please don’t even ask me about it.”
You just came back from a six week suspension; they can’t not ask you about it. That is THE story. The return of Ezekiel Elliott. It’s the biggest story of the week for the team. What did you think they were going to ask about? The game plan against the Seahawks? Your documentary? Oh, wait, they did, and you butchered that answer, too.
Honestly, the first question and answer isn’t that bad. But after that, it gets bad in a hurry. For no particular reason. Here’s the transcript:
Can you talk about what you’ve been doing the last six weeks?
What message do you want people to get from watching the documentary?
“Just watch it. Tell me the message you get.”
When is it coming out?
“I don’t know.”
What went into some of your conditioning?
“I’m ready to talk about the Seattle Seahawks. I’m ready to talk about the Dallas Cowboys. I’m not speaking on that anymore.”
Why don’t you want to talk about that six-week stretch?
“Alright, I’m done. Thank you.”
I’m not here to critique Elliott’s interactions with the media. He can handle it any way he wants to. But I am going to say, that’s probably not the best way.
I know he doesn’t want to talk about his suspension, but that’s part of the game here. You come back on your first day, you talk about it, you answer questions about it, and then you can say that you’ll never talk about it again. Handle that well, and maybe it goes away. But try to shove it away, insist on not talking about it, and it becomes a bigger thing. Especially when you’re asked, “Why don’t you want to talk about that six-week stretch?” And then answer with “Alright, I’m done. Thank you.”
Look, nobody wants to talk about a six-week suspension, but it’s not like these were tough, soul-searching questions. You weren’t being grilled here. You were being asked questions like “can you talk about what you’ve been doing the last six weeks?” That’s a reporter who just wanted a little info and is giving you a very broad, very general question. You could’ve taken that in any number of directions. You could talk about your training, you could talk about how frustrating it was to be sitting out and unable to help your team, hell, you could even talk about your documentary.
And speaking of that, two of those six questions were specifically about your documentary, two chances to plug this project that you were working on while you were away, and you swatted them away. What’s the point of making a documentary if you don’t want people to know when it’ll be out or what you want people to take away from it?
The last five questions were: one about what you’ve done the last six weeks, two about the documentary one about what he’s done regarding conditioning, and one about why he doesn’t want to talk about the last six weeks. And then he was gone.
Again, I get it. If I were him, that suspension would be the last thing I’d want to talk about. Being out for six weeks cannot have been fun, but finish the run. Answer the questions, then move on. Or don’t answer the questions, sabotage your rep a little more, and let all of this linger longer. Your call. And you made the wrong one. And you handled this all wrong, pretty much like you have most things off the field. So if anyone was hoping this guy did some serious soul searching and came back a changed dude. He didn’t.